Nigeria (MNN) – A recent article by DW said megachurches in Nigeria are making money off believers and exploiting their faith by doing so.
The Church in Nigeria
“Within the Christian community, the Pentecostal denomination has really gotten a lot of traction… in some cases, that’s a great thing, and in other cases, some of their doctrines that are being taught… particularly about prosperity, is quite honestly, hindering the Church,” World Mission’s Greg Kelley says.
With more than 87 million people in poverty, Nigeria is home to the greatest population in extreme poverty in one nation.
An article by Punch in July reported that out of the 193.3 million people in the country, 152 million live off less than $2 a day.
As people have become desperate to rise out of poverty, many have looked to churches and seen their ticket to prosperity.
According to DW, some of these churches have promised that the more people donate to the churches, the more their wealth will increase.
Furthermore, churches have been selling different products after services like olive oil. The DW article reported that salespeople said the oil’s expensive price of $5 a bottle was because of its ability to heal people of any sicknesses, including HIV.
Kelley says he believes God does bless His people financially and in every area of their lives, but “when the emphasis is upon materialism, we have a real problem, and unfortunately, that’s what’s going on in a segment within the Church in Nigeria. This emphasis on wealth and materialism is really debilitating the ability of the Church to gain the kind of momentum it needs and the kind of depth it needs.”
Instead of putting the focus on worshipping Jesus, Kelley says, the focus of these churches has turned to how a person can get wealthy.
Tainted Ministry Opportunities
This shift in focus is not only affecting believers and the Church, but it’s tainting opportunities for ministry to others, specifically to Muslims.
“Muslims are not going to be attracted to this idea of hey, convert to Christianity so you can get rich. They’re not interested in that at all. In many cases, Muslims in Nigeria are more committed to their religion than the Christians are because… it’s their entire worldview. Their entire ideology is wrapped around their religion,” Kelley says.
Nigeria is split in two. About half of the people consider themselves Muslims, and about half consider themselves Christians.
“There’s literally a war going on there in the spiritual realm and the only people really that are going to survive and the only way the Church advances is if it is passionately in love with Jesus so that it can then reach out to the Muslim community.”
So how does the Church in Nigeria go about strengthening its love for Jesus?
Kelley says it needs to go back to the basics. It needs to get back into the Word of God and gain depth.
“One of the primary attributes of authenticity is transformation and so, when people see a life transformed by the Gospel, they will be attracted to that. They will be drawn to that.”
Kelley says as more people are transformed, there will be a unity in the country that can only point to Jesus.
World Mission’s Work
World Mission is working towards that unity by distributing their solar-powered audio Bible, the Treasure. They’re distributing more Treasures in Nigeria than any other country in Africa because there are so many Muslims, many who have not heard the message of Jesus.
They’re giving Treasures to both Christians and Muslims alike.
Kelley shares the ministry gave a Treasure to an esteemed health worker who was a Muslim. After hearing the Word of God, the health worker gave his life to Christ and soon after, 19 other Muslims did the same.
“Now, because it’s in a hostile environment, there was a mob that mobilized to attack these new Christians and our partners had to literally go in and extract them and get them to a safe environment where right now they are and they’re being housed, they’re being cared for, and they’re being discipled,” Kelley says.
“The purpose of that is so they can one day soon go back there and share the Love of Jesus with these very people who persecuted them.”
World Mission asks for your prayer over the Church in Nigeria. Pray they will refocus their attention on Jesus rather than on riches. Pray they will grow deeper in their faith and be driven to share about Jesus with their neighbors and their persecutors.
Help World Mission provide more Treasures in the Hausa language, which is one of the primary languages of Boko Haram terrorists. Pray for believers who are willing to take Treasures to northern Nigeria, where many Boko Haram militants are and is one of the most dangerous places for a Christian to be.